In several private conversations I have had with reporters and others in Alaska, I have been told that Gov. Palin had come under considerable, though mostly under the radar, scrutiny (even some criticism) regarding how inconsistently her children attended school, and how glibly they were moved from place to place. Track, for example, attended most of his senior year in Michigan, allegedly to play on a more prominent hockey team, but when his hockey prospects dimmed he was, in March of his senior year, brought back to Wasilla where he finished the year at Wasilla High School. Having shepherded six children through high school I cannot fathom a teen changing schools three quarters of the way through his senior year, but maybe that's just me being too picky or something.
Exact details concerning the whereabouts of Bristol Palin, however, have been harder to pin down. In particular, Bristol’s attendance during the 2007-08 school year has been questioned on this site and on others. This school year, of course, is the focus of our interest. Why?
1. Someone had to be pregnant with Trig Palin during most of what would have been the 2007 - 2008 school year. If it were not Sarah Palin, it had to be someone else. Period.
2. Photographs of Bristol Palin taken in September of 2007 when compared to June of 2007 show physical changes which are consistent with pregnancy. Does this prove she WAS pregnant? No. Does it suggest that she could have been? Yes.
3. "Something" appears to have happened in Bristol Palin's life during the summer of 2007. She went from being openly in school in the spring of 2007, attending First Family events (albeit reluctantly), posting frequently on social networking sites, working at a coffee shop in early summer of that year, to... as far as we can tell... dropping almost totally out of sight by early fall. She was photographed in Juneau in mid September 2007, then no other photograph of her exists until late April of 2008. ONE family photograph (containing Bristol) released by the Palin family to the media of "Christmas 2007" has been shown to actually have been taken Christmas 2006.
4. Rumors that Bristol Palin WAS pregnant were circulating in Alaska as early as December of 2007, long before Trig was allegedly born in April of 2008.
So obviously Bristol's school attendance during the fall of 2007 is of considerable interest to those of us who are trying to get solid answers to this mystery. Imagine our surprise, then, when out of the blue two days ago comes a totally new, previously unheard of revelation from Levi Johnston to GQ Magazine: he and Bristol, at some point during this 2007 - 2008 school year, homeschooled TOGETHER at the Palin home.
My initial response: Huh?
Her attendance during that year at both Wasilla and Anchorage West has been extensively questioned based on conflicting reports, and spotty information. Of course, neither school will (or should) give any information about a minor student "on the record." So what is known must be pieced together from media reports, which often contradict each other. Wasilla High Assistant Principal Mark Okeson told the media in September that Bristol had transferred to Anchorage “midyear”, though he admitted: “I never heard the story why.” This certainly makes it sound as if she attended Wasilla until Christmas 2007 and then left. The National Enquirer reported that Sarah banished Bristol to live with her Aunt Heather in Anchorage after learning of her pregnancy. And Kyle Hopkins at the Anchorage Daily News, speaking with Heather Bruce shortly after Sarah’s nomination, confirmed from Bristol's own aunt that Bristol attended Anchorage West “in the spring." Bristol's attendance was also confirmed by a private source who has stated to me that Bristol, a friend of her child's, attended Anchorage West in January and February, leaving some time before mid-March 2008.
Yet, the details surrounding the transition from Wasilla to Anchorage remain fuzzy. If Tripp was born at or close to full term in late December, 2008, Bristol could not have known about her pregnancy prior to either very late April or early May of 2008. Anchorage West's LAST day of school in 2008 was May 16th. So it is absurd to suggest that she lived with Heather Bruce AND went to school at any point during her pregnancy with Tripp. She didn't. If it is true that she lived with Heather Bruce while pregnant AND she attended school, it MUST refer to a prior pregnancy.
We do know from Sarah Palin’s interview with Alaska Magazine that, as of fall 2007, the plan at that point had been for Bristol to stay in Wasilla to finish out her high school career. If so, it would be understandable. Not many teenagers appreciate being taken away from friends, favorite teachers, and social events right in the middle of high school.
But, there may have been another option, and, based on Levi's recent statement to GQ, one that may well have been utilized by the Palins. In an article published by the Boston Herald on September 2, 2008, WHS principal Dwight Probasco stated that, while Levi did play for the Wasilla Warriors hockey team during the 2007-08 season, he was not attending classes that year--instead, he was homeschooled via the Mat-Su Correspondence Study School. Here's the exact quote:
Principal Dwight Probasco explained Levi’s decision to drop out: “School might have interfered with Levi’s moose-hunting, so he did a home school course. He continued to play on the ice hockey team, even though he stopped coming to classes two years ago. I understand he is now out of work.”
And now, a new article in GQ magazine not only confirms that Levi was homeschooling during that school year, but appears to impart some additional information that we had not heard before. Referring to Levi at that time:
“The previous year [this has to refer to 2007-2008] he’d been in a homeschool scenario. Alaska boasts the most lax homeschooling rules of any state in the union, in the sense that they have literally almost no rules. Levi was doing his learning online, through a Brigham Young University program. Unsupervised, at the Palins’ house, where Bristol Palin was homeschooling, too.”
The timeline for Bristol's homeschooling is--what a surprise--unclear. It is generally accepted, though, that she began attending Anchorage West at some point in 2008, so this article appears to be referring to the months prior to that. Read that again. This article is now strongly suggesting that Bristol was NOT in fact attending Wasilla High in the fall of 2007, but was "homeschooling."
Wow. Bristol Palin - popular, athletic, good student, missed all of her friends at Wasilla High SO much while in Juneau the previous spring that she decided to... home school? IN Wasilla? What's wrong with this picture?
And adding gasoline to the intrigue fire is a quote from Gov. Palin herself, in August of 2007, where she states specifically to interviewer Armstrong Williams that, the previous day, Bristol (and her siblings) had been registered for school. In fact, what Gov. Palin specifically says is, "Four kids, four different schools." No mention of homeschooling here whatsoever. (Forgive the digression, but I must point out another curious fact: the fourth kid can only be Track, and since he had graduated from high school the previous spring, this has to refer to registering for community college or some other higher education source. Yet... within a month he's changed his mind and has enlisted in the military. It's been suggested many places that Track's enlistment decision was abrupt, and motivated, at least in part, by something other than pure patriotism. This certainly seems to confirm that his mother, in August of 2007, had no clue he was about to enlist.)
Something just ain't right here, folks. Homeschooling is one of the button issues of the religious right. If Palin had homeschooled any of her children for any time at all, don't you think it would have been used during the campaign? Good grief, they used everything else they could find. But no... homeschool prior to the fall of 2008 was never mentioned once that I can find in connection with the Palin family.
I have suspected for a long time that Bristol Palin did not attend school in the fall of 2007, but have not been able to prove it. Does this chance comment from Levi Johnston (just keep talking, kid) provide conclusive proof? No. Does it bring us one step closer? I think so.